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Updated 07 November 2013

How does UVB work?

Sunburn is your skin's reaction to ultraviolet radiation or UV. Go into the sun unprotected in any way and UV (both UVA and UVB) immediately penetrate your skin.

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Sunburn is your skin's reaction to ultraviolet radiation or UV. Go into the sun unprotected in any way and UV (both UVA and UVB) immediately penetrate your skin. How exactly does it work?

UVB causes the top layers of your skin to release chemicals that make your blood vessels expand and leak fluid, causing pain, inflammation and redness – it’s known as sunburn. This sort of damage can occur within as little as 15 minutes and can continue to develop for up to 72 hours after you’ve been exposed to the sun.

UVA penetrates deeper into the skin than UVB, affecting the living skin cells that lie under your skin's surface. It’s these rays that bring about longer-term damage such as wrinkles, sagging and discolouration. It also lays the groundwork for skin cancer in the future.

The skin cells damaged by this will die and peel away in flakes or sheets. Peeling is a little unsightly, but it’s actually your body's way of disposing of cells that could develop into cancers.

But that doesn’t mean sunburn is okay. Sunburn – mild or serious - can cause irreversible skin damage. This damage is compounded by repeated exposure to the sun.

You’re most likely to get sunburned while doing something passive - watching cricket, reading a book or driving. So, put on a hat, a shirt, some sunglasses and sunblock.

 
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